I'm currently attending my first PoCC (People of Color Conference) hosted by NAIS and my eyes have been filled with tears. The conference's title, "New Decade, New Destinies- Challenging Self- Changing Systems- Choosing Justice" hold the surface of this magically elevating experiences as a POC in a PWI. It's been my first experience sharing space in a micro-affinity group with other 1st generation Filipinx professionals. Wow. So many beautiful brown faces illuminated my screen. Attending this conference virtually because of the global pandemic has some advantages. One is the accessibility it creates for it's attendees- there are over 2,000 BIPOC professionals in attendance. In the AAIP Affinity space there were over 250 members in "room". In the micro-affinity space Filipinx identifying folx held 8 break out rooms (80?). Second, I get to see all the faces on my screen- a mosaic of humans from all parts of the US and internationally.
A pivotal session during this conference titled, "Island Womxn Rise, Walang Makakatigil: Collectivist Cultural Approach For Healing, Sustaining, and Inspiring" discussed the meaning of "Kapwa" . According to Professor Virgilio Enriquez, founder of Sikolohiyang Pilipino. “Kapwa is a recognition of a shared identity, an inner self, shared with others. This Filipino linguistic unity of the self and the other is unique and unlike in most modern languages. Why? Because implied in such inclusiveness is the moral obligation to treat one another as equal fellow human beings. If we can do this – even starting in our own family or our circle of friends – we are on the way to practice peace. We are Kapwa People.”
This term, "We are Kapwa People" will reside within me now. I'm truly grateful to have found this space of unity, acceptance and belonging.